AFTER an encouraging start to the year, when the number of properties sold in Cyprus increased for the first time in nineteen months, sales tumbled in February.
It appears that the earlier surge in sales may be attributed to people waiting to deposit their contracts of sale until after the recent tax reductions had been introduced.
According to the monthly statistics published by the Department of Lands and Surveys, a total of 445 contracts for the sale of property were deposited at Land Registries across the Island in February compared with the 602 deposited during February 2011; a fall of 26.1%.
Of those 445 contracts, 329 (82%) were in favour of Cypriot buyers and 116 (18%) were in favour of overseas buyers.
With the number of registered unemployed having reached a record level of 37,874 in February, a lack of liquidity in the banking system, tightened borrowing criteria and a general uncertainty about the future of the economy, domestic sales tumbled; down 28.6% across the Island standing at 329 compared with 461 in February 2011.
The worst hit area was Larnaca, where sales plummeted by 78.1% compared with last year. Larnaca was followed by Paphos (-37.7%), Nicosia (-18.9%), Limassol (-14.8%) and finally Famagusta (-6.7%).
Foreign demand for property continued to decline in February, increasing pessimism about the future of the Island’s once booming overseas property market.
Economic conditions in Cyprus’ main markets has yet to improve and problems resulting from the unacceptable delays in issuing Title Deeds have yet to be fully resolved by the Island’s government.
The ongoing actions of nefarious elements in the construction industry and the legal profession and have yet to be addressed (with the Cyprus Bar Association Disciplinary Committee imposing paltry fines for serious breaches of professional conduct).
During February, overseas sales fell to 116 compared with 141 in February 2011; a drop of 17.7%.
Sales in Paphos fell by 39.2%, while those in Limassol and Nicosia fell by 10.7% and 6.7% respectively. Foreign sales in Famagusta (10) and Larnaca (22) were the same as February 2011.
In 2011, foreign demand for property hit a 10-year low.